Selecting the best alfalfa varieties for your fields gets more difficult every year. And this year it'll be especially tough.
At least 26 seed companies are introducing nearly 50 new alfalfa varieties, offering everything from strong disease and insect resistance to high yield and great forage quality.
Check out the varieties listed for your dormancy area, noting those that have all the characteristics you need. Then find out how they performed in yield trials in your region. Finally, try one or more of them in small acreages to find out how they'll fare under your conditions.
Remember, all information in the following listings comes from the alfalfa seed companies themselves. Note that varieties are organized by fall dormancy (FD) rating. Fall Dormancy 2
Peterson Seed Co., Savage, MN, introduces Greenfeast, which is resistant to pea aphid, blue alfalfa aphid, spotted alfalfa aphid and stem nematode. It's moderately resistant to sclerotinia crown rot and lepto leaf spot. The high-quality alfalfa yields well and persists under tough Northern winters.
DK 124, persistent and high in quality, rates excellent in recovery rate and winterhardiness, according to Dekalb Genetics, Dekalb, IL. It has high resistance to aphanomyces. Designed for three- or four-cut systems, it's an excellent choice for poorly drained soils.
America's Alfalfa, Shawnee Mission, KS, presents AmeriStand 201 +Z. The alfalfa combines superior winterhardiness and +Z seedling disease resistance for early vigor and thick, healthy stands. Its unique crown structure withstands tough harvest schedules and provides rapid cutting recovery.
WL 232 HQ is a very high-yielding, early FD 2 variety with superior winterhardiness and outstanding milk and beef production potential. From W-L Research, Evansville, WI, it's resistant to all major aphid and nematode pests.
Frontier, from Top Farm Hybrids, Cokato, MN, offers yield performance, plant persistence and forage value. It also displays strong resistance to the major alfalfa diseases. An FD 2.7, it's adaptable to North Central and Midwestern states.
Gold Country Seed, Hutchinson, MN, is marketing MaxField II, which offers fast recovery from cutting and excellent overall disease resistance. Its FD rating: 2.8. Similar to Vernal in winterhardiness, it has excellent forage yield potential and high relative feed value (RFV).
LHR100, from Spangler Seedtech, Jefferson, WI, has the glandular-hair trait for potato leafhopper resistance. Its FD rating, 2.8; winterhardiness, 2.1. It scored 29 out of 30 on the Wisconsin Disease Rating Index (WDRI) and is significantly more palatable than Vernal. It also recovers fast after cutting.
Fall Dormancy 3
A second-generation leafhopper-resistant variety with twice the resistance of competitive varieties comes from Mycogen Seeds, Eagan, MN. TMF 4355LH has fast regrowth between cuttings and excellent RFV and protein scores. It rates 28 out of 30 on the WDRI and protects against insects such as spotted alfalfa and pea aphids.
ABT 350, from AgriBioTech, Henderson, NV, produces high yields, excellent stand persistence and fast recovery after cutting. It has a 30 WDRI score and is highly productive on poorly drained soils. Its high crude protein and RFV make it an ideal forage for beef and dairy production. The variety has a winterhardiness rating of 2.
Dekalb Genetics' DK 131HG has HopperGuard resistance to potato leafhopper, plus excellent winterhardiness and disease resistance, rating 29 out of 30 on the WDRI. It's highly recommended for poorly drained soils and intensive management systems.
Also from Dekalb, DK 134 is a high-yielding variety that's highly resistant to six major alfalfa diseases. It offers excellent winterhardiness and adapts well to three- or four-cut systems. It performs well on fertile low ground, light soils and under stress conditions.
Dahlco, Cokato, MN, introduces Pointer, with a 2.75 winterhardiness rating and consistently high forage yields andquality. It works well in a four-cut system and offers high RFV.
Leafhopper-resistant 53V63, from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Johnston, IA, is recommended for the northern Dairy Crescent in Minnesota to the New England states. It combines good winterhardiness with yield and pest resistance and is resistant to six major diseases.
Cyclone, from Tri-State Seed & Ag, Sleepy Eye, MN, competes well in forage quality and has high yields, pest resistance and overall stand persistence. The variety is highly resistant to anthracnose, phytophthora root rot and bacterial, fusarium and verticillium wilts. Its WDRI score: 29; winterhardiness: 3.5.
Power Plant offers outstanding yields and persistence, multileaflet expression of over 85% and superior forage quality, according to its marketer, Crow's Hybrid Seed, Milford, IL. AgriPro Seeds, Shawnee Mission, KS, introduces two FD 3 alfalfas.
Defense +EV features potato leafhopper resistance using Alfaguard Insect Protection. The addition of Zoospore technology offers seedling resistance to phytophthora root rot and aphanomyces for good emergence and seedling vigor. Its WDRI score: 30.
Yielder was bred to produce big yields in short rotations. It establishes quickly and offers very high yield potential its first and second years of stand life. It also has a high leaf-to-stem ratio. Besides +Z disease resistance for enhanced seedling vigor and stand establishment, AmeriGuard 302 +Z incorporates third-generation genetics for improved potato leafhopper resistance. From America's Alfalfa, it offers high yields and winter survival.
GH788, from Golden Harvest, Bloomington, IL, has an excellent winterhardiness rating and a solid pest resistance profile. The alfalfa offers TopKote polymer protective seed coating, displays very fast recovery and has excellent crude protein percentages and high RFV.
Also from Golden Harvest, GH797 has the TopKote seed coating and is highly resistant to a number of diseases, including anthracnose, bacterial wilt and phytophthora root rot. This very leafy, dark green variety has an excellent winterhardiness rating.
Legend Seeds, from DeSmet, SD, offers Legend Gold, with high forage yield and quality. It adapts widely across the Upper Midwest and Northern High Plains. The multileaflet alfalfa, with 85% expression, has a winter survival rating of 2.5. With a WDRI score of 30, it shows strong resistance to bacterial wilt and phytophthora root rot.
Lexus, from Pfister Hybrids, El Paso, IL, is very winterhardy, with excellent resistance to phytophthora root rot and aphanomyces. The alfalfa has a deep, rich-green color. Also from Pfister, Genesis has excellent yield and quality, fast regrowth, a 3.5 FD rating and a very good disease package.
Wyffels Hybrids, Atkinson, IL, calls Passport an outstanding, high-yielding alfalfa with unsurpassed wet-soil tolerance. Resistant to aphanomyces race 2, the variety is also cold-tolerant. Its winterhardiness rating: 2.5; its FD rating: 3.5. It displays fast recovery after cutting, high RFV and long-term stand persistence, even on heavy, poorly drained soils.
Fall Dormancy 4
From Golden Harvest, GH750 has a 3 winterhardiness rating and a 30 WDRI score. The alfalfa has outstanding phytophthora root rot and aphanomyces resistance and very fast recovery after cutting. Yields are excellent.
Select offers very fast cutting recovery, exceptional forage yield potential and very good winterhardiness. The variety should adapt well in areas where FD 3 or 4 varieties are typically planted, according to Union Seed Co., Nampa, ID.
The alfalfa's highly resistant to anthracnose, phytophthora root rot, bacterial and fusarium wilts, stem nematode and pea aphid. It also exhibits high multifoliate leaf expression with a dark green color.
Mycogen's TMF 4464 is a high-yielding variety. In university testing across nine alfalfa-producing states, its average yield was 115% of the average yield of check varieties. It should be grown south of I-90. It is well-adapted to both irrigated and dryland production where four or more cuttings are taken. The variety's WDRI score: 29.
ABT 400SCL, from AgriBioTech, is highly resistance to six major alfalfa diseases, and resistant to pea aphid and stem nematode. It scored a 30 out of 30 on the WDRI and can be adapted for hay, haylage or grazing purposes throughout the U.S. The alfalfa delivers superior stand establishment, excellent persistence, fast recovery after cutting and a 3.1 winterhardiness rating.
Plumas, a high-yielding multileaflet variety from Eureka Seeds, Inc., Woodland, CA, offers high resistance or resistance to nine major alfalfa diseases and insects. The alfalfa has superior stand persistence and forage quality.
Geneva, a multileaflet variety from Novartis Seeds, Golden Valley, MN, offers outstanding yield and high RFV. The alfalfa combines high disease resistance with exceptional insect protection and a winterhardiness rating of 2. It adapts well across a wide range of growing conditions and has very fast recovery after cutting.
Reno, another multileaflet alfalfa from Novartis Seeds, has top forage yield and a high RFV. It's suited for tough growing conditions in the High Plains regions of the U.S. The variety's winterhardiness rating: 3. It gives excellent disease and pest resistance, including high resistance to stem nematode and moderate resistance to root-knot nematode. The alfalfa is also resistant to pea aphid and spotted alfalfa aphid.
Magnum V, from Dairyland Seed Co., West Bend, WI, is highly resistant to phytophthora root rot and bacterial and fusarium wilts. It's resistant to anthracnose, verticillium wilt, stem nematode and spotted alfalfa and pea aphids. The alfalfa is rated excellent for winterhardiness and insect resistance and carries excellent persistence characteristics.
Geertson Seed Farms, Adrian, OR, introduces Multi 5301, a multifoliate with over 92% expression. It combines high quality with excellent yield, persistence and disease resistance. The variety will increase RFV by 10-20 points over conventional alfalfas.
LG Seeds, Prescott, WI, announces 9429, which has demonstrated outstanding yield potential. This alfalfa is distinct in that it has a 2 winterhardiness rating, making it better equipped to survive harsh winters than many FD 4 varieties. It also provides good quality and high RFV.
Cimarron 3i is the third improvement of the Cimarron alfalfa from Great Plains Research, Apex, NC. It provides excellent winterhardiness, high yield and vigorous seedling establishment. The variety is resistant to 16 pests, including increased tolerance to alfalfa weevil.
Awesome, from Callahan Seeds, Westfield, IN, offers high forage quality. It carries a 30 WDRI score and is highly resistant to phytophthora root rot, aphanomyces and bacterial, verticillium and fusarium wilts. The alfalfa provides very fast cutting recovery and a wide harvest window.
Also from Callahan, Stellar can bring growers more consistent results from summer and fall seedings in the central and southern areas of the eastern Corn Belt. It's resistant to sclerotinia crown rot, which can reduce or wipe out new fall seedlings. The variety has a 27 WDRI score and resists pea and spotted alfalfa aphids.
GH757 is a high-yielding winterhardy alfalfa tolerant to wet soils. From Golden Harvest, it's one of only two commercially available varieties resistant to Race 2 aphanomyces. It recovers fast after cutting and has high forage quality. Its WDRI score: 30.
Ramy International, Ltd., of Mankato, MN, offers Hunter, a multifoliate variety with 85% multileaflet expression. With early spring emergence and fast recovery from cutting, the long-rotation alfalfa provides excellent disease and insect resistance. It's highly resistant to phytophthora root rot, anthracnose, alfalfa aphid and fusarium and bacterial wilts; resistant to verticillium wilt and aphanomyces.
Top Farm Hybrids introduces Gold Plus, for dairymen or cattlemen expecting a long-term alfalfa to bring high yields and forage quality. It recovers fast after cutting and has a superior disease package. Highly resistant to pea aphid, stem nematode and spotted aphid, the alfalfa also survives well in harsh weather.
Targeted for the southern Dairy Crescent, 54H69 is a leafhopper-resistant, winterhardy variety from Pioneer. It offers high resistance to phytophthora root rot, anthracnose and bacterial and fusarium wilts. The alfalfa is also resistant to verticillium wilt, aphanomyces, spotted alfalfa aphid and stem nematode.
Fall Dormancy 5
This variety offers the highest available resistance to Columbia root-knot nematode. Archer II, from America's Alfalfa, provides excellent yields and persistence. It is bred to excel in nematode-infested areas and in rotations with susceptible crops.
AgriPro Seeds' Dagger +EV excels where five or more cuttings are possible. It's the first semidormant alfalfa with resistance to both stem and root lesion nematodes. The alfalfa uses Zoospore technology for sedling resistance to phytophthora root rot and aphanomyces, and has excellent drought tolerance. Its WDRI score: 29.
Fall Dormancy 6
A high-yielding semidormant, multileaflet variety comes from Eureka Seeds. Tango is highly resistant or resistant to eight major alfalfa diseases and insects. With excellent persistence on heavy soils or in wet conditions, the variety produces very high-quality forage and has better winterhardiness than other semidormants.
Fall Dormancy 7
From W-L Research, WL 442 adapts broadly over a wide range of climates and soil types. With very high yield potential, the alfalfa offers superior resistance to major aphid and nematode pests, including both stem and root-knot nematodes.
AmeriLeaf 721, from America's Alfalfa, has big leaves for big yields. This alfalfa's multifoliate leaves are 40% larger than normal. It also has great disease, nematode and aphid resistance.
Pioneer introduces its first semidormant, high-quality alfalfa. Adapted to California and the Southwest, 57Q77 yields similarly to 5681. The variety has exceptional resistance to phytophthora root rot, root-knot nematode, spotted alfalfa, pea and blue aphids.
Fall Dormancy 8
From AgriPro Seeds, Rodeo is bred for non-dormant production areas. It's designed to persist under haying or grazing conditions and has a good pest-resistance package. The alfalfa provides excellent resistance to all alfalfa aphids.
Fall Dormancy 10
The first commercial alfalfa variety to show resistance to silverleaf whitefly is WL 711 WF. Also the first FD 10 release from W-L Research, the variety is very well-adapted to desert climates. It offers fast recovery after cutting and superior stand persistence.